Defense Mechanisms and Inner Healing
Many people don’t even realize it, but they have what is called defense mechanisms that are preventing their emotional wounds from ever healing. The Holy Spirit is eager and ready to heal us, but when we don’t somehow receive it, then there’s a reason or something that is blocking or hindering that healing from manifesting. All too often, that reason is a defense mechanism that is in place, protecting the wound from further harm, but at the same time, serving as a wall or blockage which prevents or hinders the light of Christ from penetrating and healing the wound.
Once Satan has a wound in you, he wants to ensure that it doesn’t heal. That is where he works hand in hand with fleshly defense mechanisms to keep a person’s wound from ever healing.
What is a defense mechanism? A defense mechanism is an ungodly reaction within a person that is designed to prevent the person from further harm. It can be fear, unforgiveness, un-correctiveness, rebellion, etc. Think of it as a wall which keeps out both the bad guys along with the good guys.
Unfortunately, the very thing which rises up to defend us, is the very thing which prevents our wound from ever healing. The Holy Spirit is more than eager to get us healed and restored, but we must not put our hand in His face when He’s trying to heal. One of the most important steps in the inner healing process is to remove defense mechanisms so that the Holy Spirit can heal the wounds. Begin to deal with the defense mechanisms, and you will make yourself available for healing.
Defense mechanisms are rooted in our human flesh, and are not inclined to trust God. That is why a defense mechanism can cause a person to find it very difficult to trust God. They would rather act upon their fears or unforgiveness to protect them, than to lay their burdens and concerns before Jesus’ feet, and trust Him to take care of them. In reality, defense mechanisms are fleshly ways of dealing with and handling things that God has told us to trust Him with.
How do you recognize a defense mechanism? Be watchful for emotions which tend to “rise up” within you when you are faced with certain situations which put you at possible risk of being re-hurt in a particular area of your life. Defense mechanisms can come in a variety of forms, but the two main categories involve fear and unforgiveness. Fear is afraid of being hurt, and unforgiveness says, “I will not allow myself to be hurt.”
Unforgiveness and fear both have children, did you know that? Unforgiveness is the root that leads to resentment, anger, hate, and even murder. Fear has a family all on it’s own, including plain old fear, worry, insecurity, dread, panic, and so forth. I have dealt with a spirit of panic in a young woman, and when it manifested, her body took off vibrating. Whenever you are not inclined to trust God with something, it can be a defense mechanism because you fear being hurt or suffering loss. Fear is just as much of a defense mechanism as unforgiveness is.
If you struggle with issues of anger, rebellion (blaming others), resentment (rooted in unforgiveness), and so forth, then you are up against a defense mechanism. A defense mechanism will rise up when it perceives potential harm in an area of a person’s life.
Understanding defense mechanisms
Defense mechanisms are usually there because the person has been wronged (abused, hurt, etc.). All that these mechanisms know is hurt and pain, so they take it up on themselves to protect the person from further hurt and pain. Some people will even make a vow such as, “I will never let anybody get close to me again!” Such vows bind a person’s soul and invite demonic bondage. Demons are more than eager to work alongside defense mechanisms to create bondages to things such as anger, resentment, fear, and so forth. In such cases, the defense mechanisms need to be addressed, the demons cast out, and the emotional damage healed.
Self-pity can cause a person to actually hold onto their hurt and pain in order to gain love and acceptance from others. Self-pity can be rooted in rejection, because the person is attempting to find love and acceptance. Where there is self-pity, there is usually a sense of rejection from others.
Somebody who has defense mechanisms built, will often find it difficult to talk about certain things or receive correction about their attitude or conduct. There is often a feeling of, “Do not go there!” rise up within the person. They want to stay away from addressing the root as if it were poison.
The whole idea of defense mechanisms is to protect the person from further harm or pain.
Tearing down defense mechanisms
It is important to realize that defense mechanisms will attempt to block outsiders, regardless if it’s further harm or the light of Christ. This will prevent the light of Christ from even reaching the wound so that it can be healed. The goal, therefore, is to address defense mechanisms so that the light of Christ is not blocked. We must make way for God to heal the wound! Emotional healing is a ministry of the Holy Spirit; it is our job to simply cooperate with Him to manifest that healing.
Roadblock #1: Unthankfulness. Being that defense mechanisms are there because of pain and hurt, they are generally unthankful. The Holy Spirit has shown me that thankfulness is definitely an important key to receiving healing for damaged emotions. We must stop dwelling on what was done to us and all of the fleshly reasons why we are unthankful, and begin to dwell upon the things which God has given us (life, a wonderfully made physical body, the steep price that Jesus paid for our redemption, perhaps a wonderful spouse and family, etc.). I have an entire teaching on thankfulness titled A Thankful Heart that I highly recommend reading on this subject.
Roadblock #2: Blaming others (including ourselves and God). Defense mechanisms are generally prone to blame ourself, others, or even God for what has happened. Blaming ourself opens us up to bondages of self-hate, self-resentment, self-unforgiveness, self-rejection, etc. Regardless of who our defense mechanism is blaming, it is enforcing a wall which is blocking our healing. It is keeping our eyes on the problem, and off of the solution (which Christ has provided). It is absolutely important for us to accept personal responsibility for our own ungodly and hateful reactions (in our heart) for what was done to us. If we choose to dodge that responsibility, then we can forget about ever being healed of the wound.
Roadblock #3: Fear. In many cases, defense mechanisms are afraid of being hurt again, therefore they are operating out of fear. This fear will cause the person to dodge situations which may expose the person to further pain, rejection, and so forth. This type of fear is ungodly, and leads to the person failing to trust God with those things in their life. God’s Word tells us to cast all of our fears upon Him, for He cares for us (see 1 John 4:18). Not knowing the love of God will make it difficult to trust Him. It is difficult, if not impossible, to trust somebody whom you don’t really know loves and cares for you. Therefore, an important key to overcoming these fears is to learn of the love of God for you, and meditate on His goodness. Fear also draws us inward, which makes us dysfunctional in genuine relationship building, and can even render us useless in ministering to others.
Roadblock #4: Unforgiveness. The issue with unforgiveness is actually rooted in a distrust of God’s justice. When a person refuses to forgive, they are afraid that nobody else (including God) is going to do anything about the wrong that was done against us, therefore they themselves will hold onto it and see to it that the person receives justice (in their heart). They do not believe that God is going to ensure that justice happens. Forgiveness is a form of trusting God to handle the situation, and bring justice. God’s Word tells us to give place to His wrath, for He will repay. Did you know that we can actually prevent that person from receiving justice for what was done to them? It’s true that if we fail to give Him that place, then we can’t expect Him to act on our behalf and bring justice. Romans 12:19 tells us, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
One of the keys to living a life of forgiveness, is getting it down into your spirit that God truly cares for you and what is done against you, and will bring justice to those who wrong us as we trust Him with those situations.
Roadblock #5: Incorrect perceptions. A very important key to inner healing, is the tearing down of strongholds. Strongholds are incorrect thinking patterns or perceptions that have been burned into our way of thinking. When we perceive God as a cruel, distant, and unloving taskmaster, then it makes it very difficult for us to trust Him and cast our cares upon Him. When we perceive that we are dirty and shameful failures, then we will not be confident in our relationship with God, and our faith will be severely crippled. We will draw away from Him, rather than to Him (where the flow of healing is). Properly perceiving who we are in Christ, the nature and love of God for us, and our relationship with Him, is a very important key to drawing near to Him so that we can freely receive the healing light of Christ to our emotional wounds.
By coming to know the true loving, forgiving, and accepting nature of God, and to be confident in our relationship with Him (because of what Christ did, we can enter the holy of holies with boldness!) creates an atmosphere where the walls which defense mechanisms have built can be lowered. Once you begin to see God as a concerned Father who is loving and caring, and eager to heal your wounds, and your defense mechanisms are lowered, then the light of Christ is going to begin to shine on your wounds and bring healing.
A word about trust versus forgiveness: Many times these two things are confused and misunderstood as being one and the same. That is not true. Extending forgiveness is always required of us (see Matthew 6:14-15), but trusting the person who has offended us is another story. Let’s say that you were raped or abused; while it is vital to forgive the person who has done this terrible thing to you, it may also be very unwise to allow yourself to be alone with them again (thus putting yourself in harms way again). While we are required to forgive the person who has wronged us, we may or may not ever trust them again in that area, and that is perfectly acceptable.
While we are not required to trust others who have harmed us, we need to trust God with every area of our lives. Trusting God requires a knowledge of His love for us. God’s Word tells us that perfect love casts out all fear, why? Because when we know His love, it’s a synch to trust Him with every area of our lives! Another factor that hinders our ability to trust God, is not feeling very confident about our relationship with Him. Many Christians are plagued with guilt, shame, and condemnation feelings. Somehow the devil tries to make us think that our failures are greater than the Blood of the Son of God, which was shed for the removal of our failures. Are you problem focused (your sin and failures) or solution focused (what Jesus did about it)? Is the Blood of Jesus, which was shed for the sins of the whole world, so weak that it can’t wipe away the failures in your life? If that’s what your thinking, then you are grossly underestimating the value and power of the Blood of Jesus!
It is also helpful to verbally confess your choice to tear down ungodly defense mechanisms:
“I now take down the ungodly walls meant to protect me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and can endure whatever is necessary that lies before me.”